Monkey in the middle
July 3, 2011 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Wife : husband :: mistress : ?

Is there a term in the English language that specifically denotes a man involved in an extramarital relationship with a woman, from within the context of the extramarital relationship?

There are plenty of specific words to connote a straying spouse from within the context of the marriage (cheater, philanderer, etc) but I can't think of any within the other dyad, as might be used to finish the phrase, "between a mistress and her _____."

Words like lover and paramour would work, but are not specific to this situation, methinks.

The closest discussion I could find on MeFi is this question, but that's not quite what I'm looking for...
posted by Lola Xaviera Boom-Boom McPuppet to Writing & Language (48 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
He is the married person cheating or the person cheating with the married person?
posted by Leezie at 7:35 PM on July 3, 2011

In Spanish, that's a sancho.
posted by sugarfish at 7:36 PM on July 3, 2011

Response by poster: I'm looking for a term for the married man who is cheating.
posted by Lola Xaviera Boom-Boom McPuppet at 7:36 PM on July 3, 2011

"Guy on the side"?
posted by vorfeed at 7:37 PM on July 3, 2011

posted by Leezie at 7:37 PM on July 3, 2011

Never mind, I was confused. I'd go with "married man" here.
posted by vorfeed at 7:38 PM on July 3, 2011

I can't think of such a word. I'd suggest there may not be one since it's easy enough to just rephrase your example as "between a mistress and the husband" which obviates the need for such a term.
posted by axiom at 7:40 PM on July 3, 2011

posted by biochemist at 7:43 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are many more sexually-charged pejorative words for women in English than for men. It won't be surprising if there isn't an exact term to signify this role.
posted by milarepa at 7:51 PM on July 3, 2011 [9 favorites]

John? Client? I guess that's assuming there's some material exchange going on too.
posted by MadamM at 7:52 PM on July 3, 2011

The fascinating wikipedia page on "mistress" suggests that English does not have any such term, and I can't think of any myself. If you're looking for something simple but not necessarily "official," you could go with something like "kept woman" and "keeper," but I think you're stuck with pillaging other languages or inventing something here.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:53 PM on July 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks to all so far. This is a stumper, isn't it?

If there truly is a deficit in the English language for this role, why don't we tap the hive mind to make one up. Suggestions, anyone?
posted by Lola Xaviera Boom-Boom McPuppet at 7:56 PM on July 3, 2011

While 'consort' usually refers to a person with unequal social status in a married relationship, it can also have a purely 'partner' meaning.

Otherwise, if there's such a word as 'concubinage' (and it seems there is), is 'concubiner' a cromulent word?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:57 PM on July 3, 2011

On all the mistress-oriented affair support blogs, mistresses refer to someone as being "my MM", meaning "married man". ("MM did this, MM did that", etc.)

DH stands for "dear husband", and indicates their own husbands, whom they're cheating on with MM. OW stands for "Other Woman," and is generally how they refer to themselves.
posted by aquafortis at 8:00 PM on July 3, 2011 [6 favorites]

posted by Melismata at 8:12 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by motsque at 8:18 PM on July 3, 2011 [4 favorites]

"Manstress". At least, that's what we called him, the guy who was dating the married woman.

I believe we referred to her as "the hussy". Just not to her face.
posted by notsnot at 8:29 PM on July 3, 2011 [8 favorites]

All I can think of is "sugar daddy", but that would imply both an age difference and a certain relationship dynamic.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:34 PM on July 3, 2011

I wasn't aware that mistress implied the woman was married.
posted by floam at 8:51 PM on July 3, 2011

I've used both 'mister' and 'manstress'. There's no 'real' word for it....yet.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:52 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

How I Met Your Mother suggested "mastress."
posted by pised at 9:04 PM on July 3, 2011

On all the mistress-oriented affair support blogs...MM, DH, OW

OK, now I'm officially freaked out.

Isn't one who practices infidelity an infidel? "So my infidel got me these new earrings..." - hmm, maybe not. A fidel? A fiddle? A fido?

Maybe something based on the Greek παλλακή (pallakis, concubine)? ἑταίρα (hetaera, harlot) seems a bit extreme.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:05 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

There isn't a word in English for this.
posted by Justinian at 9:09 PM on July 3, 2011

Wow Lola, this is a stumper.

I came into this thread thinking this should be easy, I read enough trashy Ken Follett novels that summer I had that night security job, there should be plenty of examples.

I was going to say as has been said above; Rake, Ladies' man, Lady-Killer, Player. Yet, all of these have distinctly non-married connotations. Sugar-daddy implies some sort of largesse, or quid pro quo.

That being said, manstress is a bit close to monster alphabetically. I'm gonna get acronmy.

NMH, Not My Husband?
SEP, Somebody Else's Problem?
MGIF, Married Guy I'm Fucking?
posted by Sphinx at 9:10 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ooh, a 'figaro' would be 'daring, cunning' - you'd have to be both, I imagine.

posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:12 PM on July 3, 2011

You could say "her Married Man."
posted by LucretiusJones at 9:26 PM on July 3, 2011

Best answer: Her "gingrich"?
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 9:30 PM on July 3, 2011 [9 favorites]

Her "disappointment"?
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 10:11 PM on July 3, 2011

In Regency romance novels the correct word is 'protector' but this doesn't necessarily imply a married man, just a relationship that is outside of marriage.
posted by bq at 10:22 PM on July 3, 2011

Best answer: The closest I could get from google was "and her married lover", or "and her man".

My conclusion: if it doesn't exist in google, it doesn't exist at all. :)

The terms I used (adding the excludes as I came upon them repeatedly in previous search results): "'between a mistress and her' -slave -maid -doggy -pets -cat -pet -maiden -sub -servant"
posted by cgg at 10:24 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

D.L.R. ? [Dirty Love Rat]

I'd prefer "Beau"
posted by honey-barbara at 11:03 PM on July 3, 2011

The interesting thing here is that English has a word for "the other woman"; mistress. It has a word for a husband being cheated upon by his wife; cuckold. But as established it doesn't have a male equivalent of mistress nor a female equivalent of cuckold.

something something patriarchy something.
posted by Justinian at 12:41 AM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]

Philanderer is all we've got.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:45 AM on July 4, 2011

Well, there is also "adulterer", though it can be used for either sex.
posted by fraula at 1:32 AM on July 4, 2011

when i screwed around with married guys i always referred to them as "married guy bob" (or whatever the first name was). it was always obvious i wasn't married in these contexts, though.
posted by nadawi at 1:42 AM on July 4, 2011

Why not just "lover"?
posted by valkyryn at 1:55 AM on July 4, 2011

Cicisbeo. I don't recommend using the word if you're looking for something people will actually recognise though!
posted by crocomancer at 3:11 AM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Excellent discussion. This is a hard one! It takes a lot to stump the collective brainpower of AskMe!

I love cicisbeo and the concept behind it and will gladly promote its use, but both that word and "manstress" refer to the lover of a married woman, i.e., a wife's guy on the side. That's the focus of the thread I linked to in the OP and is a shade different than what I'm looking for. "Sancho" was invoked in that thread too; for clarification, that also refers to a wife's lover, yes? Not necessarily a married man, from the perspective of his girlfriend, who may or may not be married herself or financially helped by him.

Best answer to cgg for superior google-fu! Love that problem-solving approach.

I'm going to tag "gingrich" as a best answer too because it made me laugh out loud and I would LOVE to see that word acquire a life of its own, a la santorum. However, it is in no way a word I would use to refer affectionately to a lover who was married to someone else!

The MM/OW/DH shorthand is fascinating in a practical sense, and MGIF seems like a weirdly apt counterpart in to MILF, doesn't it? Asshole/disappointment/philanderer seem like they're more appropriate language for the betrayed wife in the scenario. Sugar daddy clearly refers to the guy in the extramarital dyad, but yeah, I'm looking for something without the commercial connatation.

Alas, none of these are the perfect wicked word to whisper in his ear in an intimate moment. Figaro, lothario, beau, rake, consort and paramour are all terrific and underused lovernames (I'd throw swain in that list too) and can be used to suit my purpose.

Much appreciation for the discussion!
posted by Lola Xaviera Boom-Boom McPuppet at 4:46 AM on July 4, 2011

"Servant" is the Restoration-through-eighteenth-century equivalent of cicisbeo, a man who pays court to a married woman. ("Beau" is also acceptable, though in the Restoration it was used to describe a lifestyle more than a relationship.) A married man who keeps a mistress (takes care of her financial needs) is her keeper; by the Regency, this mutated to protector. One simply having an extramarital affair is a lover. There may not be a perjorative term for it precisely because it was so common.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:08 AM on July 4, 2011

boy toy ?
posted by at at 5:20 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've seen people use both "MG" (married guy) and "mister" pretty often, too.
posted by ldthomps at 6:21 AM on July 4, 2011

It's gender neutral, but I would know exactly what you meant if you said, "he's O.P.P," or even "he's my O.P.P." Yeah, you know me.

(o.p.p. = other people's pussy/penis/property; see lyrics.)
posted by neda at 6:38 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like "fancy man."
posted by zadcat at 7:20 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

"The wife" and her estranged husband who is the lover of his mistress.
posted by adamvasco at 8:13 AM on July 4, 2011

posted by prefpara at 1:55 PM on July 4, 2011

This was discussed on NPR's A Way With Words not too long ago. They came up with "sancho" and "paramour."
posted by cmoj at 3:24 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I suddenly thought of this at the park you do. Isn't it a "cuckolder"?
posted by taff at 8:44 PM on July 4, 2011

There is no such word, historically. But it makes the most sense.
posted by Justinian at 4:45 PM on July 5, 2011

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